Day by Day: Mini-lessons Cycle 2, Day 1

To see a complete list of the reflection activities and for an explanation of the program, visit my Day By Day Main Page.

Mini-lessons Cycle 2: Teaching Conventions in Mini-Lessons

Day 1: The Power of conventions

Challenge: Consider a possible mini-lesson that would show the possibility of a specific convention. To push yourself into a true inquiry-based lesson, choose a punctuation mark to tap into its power. Consider a guiding question for your mini-lesson like I did.

How is your attitude changing regarding teaching grammar?

What is the attitude of your class regarding conventions? What kinds of changes are you noticing?

Book of the Week: Diary of a Wombat

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

Diary of a Wombat, by Jackie French

Didn’t get enough of wombats from One Wooly Wombat? Take a look at this book by Australian author Jackie French. And if that’s still not enough, the author and illustrator also teamed up to write How to Scratch a Wombat.

Writers Workshop Mini-Lessons

  • The text in this book is pretty minimal, but I’d definitely use it in a writing workshop mini-lesson about avoiding bed-to-bed stories. The wombat’s diary entries start out as bed-to-bed stories, but they become more interesting as he adds details from specific moments in the day.
  • Additionally, Diary of a Wombat was based on an actual wombat living under the author’s house, so it’d be a great way of showing students how their personal narrative ideas can be reused for fiction stories.

There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggested lessons:


  • Use main idea and supporting details to determine importance. The wombat sleeping is mentioned in every entry, but is the main idea of the text necessarily that wombats sleep a lot? This might be a good lesson to use to refine what the main idea is, because a strategy often used in test prep to determine the main idea is to count the number of sentences in the passage that contain a particular idea.


  • Adjust and apply different reading rates to match text. French repeats the beginning and end sentence of every entry for comedic effect. Ask students to look at how including pauses or saying these sentences the same way every time can impact the humor of the passage.

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive feedback are always welcomed. Please let me know if these lessons were useful in your class!


Day by Day Main Post

This year, I’ll be studying writing workshop and reflecting on my practice using Day by Day, by Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz. From this page, you should be able to access my posts for each chapter and each cycle.

I went one cycle at a time, so please note that all chapter 1 cycles won’t be complete, for example, until close to the end of the year. Please join me, and comment as you see fit!

Chapter 1: Routines

  • Cycle 1: Revving Up (August 29 – September 9)
  • Cycle 2: Writer’s Notebooks (November 21 – December 2)
  • Cycle 3: Publishing Celebrations (February 27 – March 9)

Chapter 2: Mini-Lessons

  • Cycle 1: Meaningful Mini-Lessons (September 12 – September 23)
  • Cycle 2: Teaching Conventions in Mini-Lessons (December 5 – December 16)
  • Cycle 3: Making Our Teaching Stick (March 12 – March 23)

Chapter 3: Choice

  • Cycle 1: Physical Choices (September 26 – October 7)
  • Cycle 2: Moving Toward Independence (January 2 – January 13)
  • Cycle 3: Living the Life of a Writer (March 26 – April 13, no posts during Spring Break)

Chapter 4: Mentors

  • Cycle 1: Students as Mentors (October 10 – October 21)
  • Cycle 2: Teachers as Mentors (January 16 – January 27)
  • Cycle 3: Published Authors as Mentors (April 16 – April 27)

Chapter 5: Conferring

  • Cycle 1: Conferring Basics (October 24 – November 4)
  • Cycle 2: Peer Conferring (January 20 – February 10)
  • Cycle 3: Lifting the Level of our Conferences (April 30 – May 11)

Chapter 6: Assessment

  • Cycle 1: Formative Assessment (November 7 – November 18)
  • Cycle 2: Summative Assessment (February 13 – February 24)
  • Cycle 3: Standardized Tests (May 14 – May 25)